Summary: Consider following Wesley’s three rules instead of 615+ commandments. Second, do good.
Three simple rules (2)
Excerpts taken from the talk (and book) of Bishop Rueben P. Job by the same title
Of course, this is “Golden Rule”
One little boy said it reads, “Do ONE to others before they do ONE to you.”
Last week “Do no Harm”
Wesley said it this way...”By doing no harm, by avoiding evil of every kind, especially that which is most generally practiced, such as...”
Continuing this week = “Do Good”
Wesley stated, “By doing good; by being in every kind merciful after their power; as they have opportunity, doing good of every possible sort, and, as far as possible, to all men:...”
Once again, as last week, we all know what this means
We know how to do good
It is a simple idea
Not “easy” but “simple”
In his third epistle John says, “Whoever does good is from God.” 3 John 11b
St. Augustine wrote, “You owe your conscience to God. To one another you owe nothing but mutual love.”
Wesley stated, “There is scarce any possible way of doing good, for which there is not a daily occasion.”
In Luke 6:27-28, Jesus told us, “27 "But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.
In “The Character of a Methodist” Wesley later wrote, “...this commandment is written in his heart, “That he who loveth God, love his brother also.” And he accordingly loves his neighbor as himself; he loves every man as his own soul. His heart is full of love to all mankind, to every child of “the Father of the spirits of all flesh.” That a man is not personally known to him, is no bar to his love, nor that he is known to be such as he approves not, that he repays hatred for his good-will. For he “loves his enemies;” yea, and the enemies of God, “the evil and the unthankful.” And if it be not in his power to “do good to those that hate him,” yet he ceases not to pray for them.” (Works Vol. 8, PP 343)
Both sound like universal commands
Not only those like me or who like me
Not only those who are “worthy”
Universal = everybody and anybody
Universal = none exempt from doing good
I do not have to wait to be ask
I do not have to wait until circumstances cry out for aid to relieve suffering or to correct some horrible injustice
I can decide my way of living will come down on the side of doing good to all in every circumstance and every way that I can
I can decide I will choose a way of living that nourishes good and strengthens community
BUT, we all wonder – what are the boundaries
Will the demands of my time, my influence and my money become overwhelming?
There are obstacles to this way of living
At top may be my desire to be in control
“The ocean is so big and my boat is so small”
What happens to my family and me if I give everything away?
Would that be enough?
What happens if my doing good is rejected, ridiculed or seen as weakness?
What if my goodness is misused in ways that I hate?
Not dependant on others
God asks me to follow Jesus and that is in my control. I can or not as I decide
Disciples followed and it cost them
Their actions were not lessened because of the outcome. Neither are ours
I will still be identified as a loved child by my Heavenly Father. What could be worth more than that?
Wesley saw this as the,”...life of God in the soul; the image of God fresh stamped on the heart; an entire renewal of the mind in every temper and thought, after the likeness of Him that created it.”
The “image of God fresh stamped on the heart” = I look to do good for those in positions and lifestyles unlike mine
= words and acts that wound and divide will be changed to words and acts that heal and bring together
= the common good is first thought and what is good for me is second thought
In Romans 12, Paul said “Let love be genuine, hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another...Outdo one another in showing honor... Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.” 9-10, 13
But what about loving our selves?
Some churches say we are worms and we should deny ourselves and accept a low opinion of ourselves
Unhealthy loathing v healthy self denial
Must be careful and not go so far to self worship